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In recent years, potting soil has been the cause in a number of house fires. Today’s potting soils contain large volumes of peat moss; when peat moss gets too dry, it becomes highly flammable. In addition, you will often find shredded wood, bark, styrofoam and vermiculite in potting mix. Like peat moss, all of these ingredients ignite  easily under dry conditions.

Sometimes the spark comes from a cigarette being extinguished in the potting soil. At other times, the sun’s heat is enough to start a fire. Once the soil ignites, fertilizers in the mix will accelerate the flames.

A few simple precautions will help to keep your home safe: 

  1. Water potted plants regularly. Make sure the soil around your potted plants stays moist. Remember the soil in pots dries out more quickly than soil in garden beds, so plan on more frequent watering.
  2. Keep ashtrays handy. Make sure smokers have a safe place to dispose of their cigarettes, indoors and outdoors, so they aren’t tempted to use a flower pot instead.
  3. Use clay pots where possible. If a fire breaks out, a clay pot will keep it contained better than other types of pots.
  4. Keep potting soil away from combustible materials. Keep potting soil and potted plants away from things that ignite and burn easily, such as firewood, stacks of newspapers, aerosols, paint solvents, gasoline and cleaning products.
  5. Dispose of unused potting soil carefully. Unused soil can dry out quickly and become a fire hazard. Buy only as much potting mix as you need for the job. If you have any left over, spread it on your garden beds.





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